Journal Article

Perceptions of Zika virus risk in Germany in 2016

Julie Obenauer, Nicole Rübsamen, Stefanie Castell, Mahrrouz Hoodgarzadeh, Carolina J Klett-Tammen, Rafael T Mikolajczyk and André Karch

in The European Journal of Public Health

Published on behalf of European Public Health Association

Volume 28, issue 1, pages 139-144
Published in print February 2018 | ISSN: 1101-1262
Published online July 2017 | e-ISSN: 1464-360X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckx092
Perceptions of Zika virus risk in Germany in 2016

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Economics of Health
  • Health, Illness, and Medicine

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Abstract

Background

Risks associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) transmission in the Americas have been discussed widely in the media as several European athletes declined to participate in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Since risk perceptions of individuals in unaffected areas are unknown, we assessed the risk perceptions of ZIKV and related behaviour in Lower Saxony, Germany, with a specific focus on pregnant women and their partners.

Methods

In May 2016, we surveyed 1,037 participants aged 15-69 years of an online panel (addressing hygiene and preventive behaviour regarding infections) in Lower Saxony with respect to their risk perceptions related to ZIKV. We additionally included 26 expectant parents who were recruited at antenatal preparation courses in Braunschweig and Hannover between May and July 2016.

Results

Six hundred fifty-five (69.1%) of the panel participants had ever heard about ZIKV. About 8% of the study participants reported to be concerned about ZIKV. Pregnant women had the highest odds of reporting concern about ZIKV (OR: 6.24; 95% CI: 2.94–13.26, reference: non-pregnant women). The vast majority of participants (79%) would travel to the Olympics if they won a free trip; this proportion was lower in currently pregnant women (46%). Risk perceptions towards ZIKV were considerably lower than those towards Ebola during the 2014 epidemic.

Conclusion

This study showed that fear of contracting ZIKV is not a major deterrent for travelling to high-risk areas. Pregnant women are appropriately concerned about the risk of ZIKV. Studies modelling the further spread of ZIKV need to account for these results.

Journal Article.  4092 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Economics of Health ; Health, Illness, and Medicine

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